For the first time, school closes for Yom Kippur

Changes to the school calendar prioritize inclusiveness


Photo Submitted by Mia Litman

Mia Litman documents Yom Kippur at her synagogue, Temple Israel, in Minneapolis, MN

Webster Lehmann, RubicOnline Videographer

For the first year, St. Paul Academy and Summit School was closed on Oct. 12 for Yom Kippur. This is the second of two holidays added to the academic calendar as days school is not in session; the first was the Islamic holiday Eid Al Adha.

Both holidays are a representation of the school’s priority to be more inclusive of different religious beliefs and will become a staple in the school schedule.

Yom Kippur is a the Jewish day of repentance. According to junior Ben Konstan, a practicing follower of Judaism,  “It represents the sealing of the Book of Life, in which our fates for the coming year are sealed.”

Konstan also added that is is customary to fast and spend the day praying at synagogue.

Both Eid Al Adha and Yom Kippur are very important religious holidays and for years, Jewish and Muslim students have had to choose between practicing their faith and prioritizing schoolwork.

“[The decision to miss school] puts a lot of stress on families and on kids,” Dean of Diversity Karen Dye said.

No longer will this be a problem. According to Dye, the changes to the schedule will become permanent in years to come. However, since both religious holidays change year to year, they may not always fall on a school day, or, in the case of Eid, they may not fall in the school year at all. Consequently, the start date for school as well as the length of MEA weekend will change accordingly.

Dye noted that the change has been in planning for quite some time and began with a parent proposal to take off school days for these important religious holidays. With growing numbers of Muslim and Jewish families at SPA the need to fulfill both educational and religious commitments has become an ever growing problem. In previous years, the calendar only aligned with Christian holidays such as Christmas, but with the growth of a more diverse school, the calendar has, and will continue to, include other religious beliefs and practices.